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Rock of Ages

Getting stoned at the Bowie concert

"I am not a prophet or a Stone Age man," intoned David Bowie at the Benedum, in a remarkable show that Post-Gazette critic Ed Masley dubbed a "religious experience." But there's always some semblance of the Stone Age when yinzers go to concerts in Pittsburgh, and God did I want to kill the two Stone Age yinzer chicks who kept smashing their flabby arms into my side.


Wilma, as I call her, had a lovely light-brown giant coif that would be the envy of any tattooed South Side big-haired gum-snapper. She wore classic Stone Age yinzer attire: an orange-and-black leopard-print blouse. Her lovely companion -- we'll call her Betty -- had humongous, heavily sprayed, blonde cotton candy on her head, supported by an equally vintage tiger-print top. These catwomen were on the prowl, determined to be noticed, oblivious to their fashion yabba-dabba-don't.


OK, maybe I'm being a bit unfair. It's a free country: If you want to look ridiculous, that's your God-given right as an American. But one of the most aggravating things about this particular brand of yinzer is that they believe concerts are all about them being noticed, as opposed to the actual performer.


"David ... we love you David ... David, play 'Let's Dance' ... David," they bellowed obnoxiously between every song. Thankfully, Bowie never did comply.


Do I sound bitter? You try getting into music when the blob next to you continually bumps your body without so much as an "excuse me."


 I'm all for enthusiastic dancing at concerts. You want to stand up the whole time? Knock yourself out. You want to scream and shout? Rock on, dude. You want to sing along to every song in a voice that drowns out the performer? I'll chop you up in little pieces and bury you underneath the stage.


The transgressions of Betty and Wilma did not travel into the songbird arena, thank goodness. But they clearly wanted David to notice them a lot more than they wanted to groove to the tunes. Why, I don't know. The guy is 57 but looks 32 and is married to supermodel Iman, so I don't think he's looking for local aging white trash, unless there's some superstar yinzer fetish with which I'm unfamiliar.


You can tell the obsession is all about "look at me" instead of "look at him" when the alleged dancing has absolutely nothing to do with the beat of the music. It's more of a mentally challenged thrashing about than an actual dance. There was one thing they did want from the performer himself: They wanted him to acknowledge them. The elaborate lighting periodically washed over the crowd and for a brief moment anyone and everyone was in the spotlight. Betty and Wilma used these milliseconds to scream and wave at Dave, as if one look at them would force him to stop the concert, and they'd be immediately ushered into the groupie trailer out back.


There was also something else very Pittsburgh about this, and it was embarrassing. I've been to dozens and dozens of concerts in several cities and never once do I remember the performer saying he had to cut the concert short because there was some sort of "curfew" as Bowie put it. People at the Benedum and the Pittsburgh Police who didn't want to be named tell me the union rates for stagehands went up dramatically at 11 p.m., so Bowie was forced to put a sock in it. According to the P-G's Masley, that deprived me of a chance to hear "Suffragette City," one of my favorite tunes.


How humiliating. We want people to revitalize Downtown, but we all turn into pumpkins at 11 p.m., so tell the international superstar to shut the hell up. Couldn't the stagehands have started their shift an hour later? Christ.


But maybe the feline fems knew more than I give them credit for. Bowie sang the classic "All The Young Dudes" which includes the lyrics "I've drunk a lot of wine and I'm feelin' fine / gonna race some cat to bed."


But the only song that keeps going around in my head is "Yinzers, meet the Yinzers, they're the modern Stone Age family. From the town of Pittsburgh, they are stuck in ancient history."

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